MLB logoMLB

Grading All of the Latest MLB Offseason Signings, Trades

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2014

Grading All of the Latest MLB Offseason Signings, Trades

1 of 20

    Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

    On the heels of a week that saw the New York Yankees come to terms with Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka on a seven-year, $155 million deal, this past week has been a significantly quieter one around the league.

    The big move was the Milwaukee Brewers coming to terms on a four-year deal with right-hander Matt Garza. But outside of that, the bulk of the action was of the minor league free agent nature. Former stars Lance Berkman and Michael Young also made headlines by announcing their retirement.

    So here is a look at all of the notable moves from the past week and my grade for each move. Grades are based on the terms of the contract and, in the case of the minor league free agents, their chances of making the big league roster.

     

    *Transactions are listed in the order that they occurred, with the most recent listed first.

Boston Red Sox Sign RP Rich Hill

2 of 20

    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Report: Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

    #Redsox signed LHR Rich Hill to minor lge deal. $840K in MLB. $500K in app bonuses. If not on MLB roster on 5/15, 6/30 can opt out.

    — Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 31, 2014

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Deal will be worth $840,000 if he makes the big league roster with $500,000 in bonuses. Can opt out of deal on May 15 and June 30 if not on big league roster.

     

    Analysis

    Once a promising starting pitching prospect in the Chicago Cubs organization, Rich Hill emerged as a solid relief option for the Boston Red Sox in 2012. He made just 25 appearances but posted a 1.83 ERA and 9.6 K/9.

    Those numbers spiked last season as the primary left-hander out of the Cleveland Indians bullpen, as he made 63 appearances and posted a 6.28 ERA and 1.733 WHIP. Perhaps a return to Boston can get his career back on track, and if he can pitch like he did in 2012, his $840,000 contract will be a steal.

     

    Grade: B

Chicago Cubs Sign SP James McDonald

3 of 20

    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Report: Bruce Levine of 670 The Score.

    Source-Cubs sign Pitcher James McDonald to minor league deal pending physical. Also invite to Major League camp.

    — Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) January 31, 2014

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training.

     

    Analysis

    James McDonald was one of the best pitchers in the National League during the first half of the 2012 season, going 6-2 with a 2.73 ERA over 14 starts. He fell off big time in the second half, though, going 6-6 with a 5.95 ERA.

    Those struggles continued last season, as he went 2-2 with a 5.76 ERA through his first six starts before being sidelined with a shoulder strain. He refused an assignment to Triple-A in September and was granted free agency. The chances he gets back to his 2012 form are slim, but it's a no-risk move for the Chicago Cubs.

     

    Grade: B+

Chicago Cubs Sign SP Jason Hammel

4 of 20

    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

    Report: Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

    Sources: #Cubs in agreement with free-agent RHP Jason Hammel, pending a physical.

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 31, 2014

     

    Terms

    One-year, $6 million deal, plus $1 million in performance incentives, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.

     

    Analysis

    After missing out on Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, the Cubs were not expected to make a run at any of the top arms on the market, though they were still looking to add to the starting pitching mix. They found their guy on Friday, signing Jason Hammel to a one-year deal.

    Hammel looked to be on his way to breakout season in 2012, going 8-5 with a 3.47 ERA in 17 first-half starts. Injuries limited him to just three second-half starts, though, and he followed that up by going 7-8 with a 4.97 ERA last year. Much like the Scott Feldman signing last offseason, the Cubs are taking a chance on a bounce-back candidate who could have significant trade value come July if he turns things around.

     

    Grade: B+

Baltimore Orioles Sign IF Alex Gonzalez

5 of 20

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

    Report: Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

    Source: #Orioles sign free-agent SS Alex Gonzalez to minor-league contract with invitation to major-league spring training.

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 31, 2014

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training.

     

    Analysis

    Looking to add to their infield mix this spring, the Baltimore Orioles signed infielder Alex Gonzalez to a minor league deal with an invite to big league camp. He'll compete with Alexi Casilla, Steve Pearce, Cord Phelps and a handful of others for one of the open bench spots.

    He signed a one-year, $1.45 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers last offseason, even earning the Opening Day start at first base. He hit just .177/.203/.230 through 41 games, though, and was released in June.

     

    Grade: C

Miami Marlins Sign CF Reed Johnson

6 of 20

    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Report: Jeff Todd of MLBTradeRumors.

    The Marlins have signed outfielder Reed Johnson to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, the club announced.

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training.

     

    Analysis

    One of the better fourth outfielders in the league throughout his career, Reed Johnson struggled through a poor 2013 season, hitting just .244/.311/.341 over 123 at-bats. The Atlanta Braves declined their $1.6 million option on the 37-year-old this offseason, paying him a $150,000 buyout instead.

    He was much better in the two seasons leading up to last year, hitting a combined .299/.342/.431 over 515 at-bats for the Cubs and Braves. Johnson will compete with Brian Bogusevic, Jimmy Paredes and a few others for a backup outfield spot this spring.

     

    Grade: C+

Cincinnati Reds Sign CF Roger Bernadina

7 of 20

    Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images

    Report: Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.

    #reds signed OF Roger Bernadina to minor lg contract, invited him to big lg camp

    — Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) January 31, 2014

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Deal will be worth $1 million if he makes the big league roster, and he can opt out on March 18, March 28 and July 1, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.

     

    Analysis

    With Shin-Soo Choo gone in free agency, the Cincinnati Reds will turn to unproven prospect Billy Hamilton as their everyday center fielder and leadoff hitter this coming season. The team has Chris Heisey as one potential insurance option, but bringing aboard Roger Bernadina on a minor league deal should help add depth as well.

    The 29-year-old was a solid fourth outfielder for the Washington Nationals from 2010-2012, averaging 317 at-bats per years and posting a line of .256/.321/.382 while stealing at least 15 bases each season. He split last season between Washington and Philadelphia, hitting just .181/.250/.295, but he still has some value as a speedy backup outfielder.

     

    Grade: B

Tampa Bay Rays Sign 3B Wilson Betemit

8 of 20

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Report: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.

    wilson betemit agrees to minor league deal with #rays

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 31, 2014

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training.

     

    Analysis

    The Baltimore Orioles signed the versatile Wilson Betemit to a two-year, $3.25 million deal prior to the 2012 season, using him as their primary third baseman. He hit .261/.322/.422 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI that season while also spending time at first base and in left field.

    He played in just six games last year due to a knee sprain, but if he proves healthy, he is the kind of player who could be a fit on the Rays' bench given his versatility. He's by no means a plus defender at any position, but he's a left-handed bat with some pop capable of playing corner infield and outfield.

     

    Grade: B+

Colorado Rockies Re-Sign RP Manny Corpas

9 of 20

    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Report: Thomas Harding of MLB.com.

    Source: RHP Manuel Corpas agrees to Minor League deal with an incite to big-league camp. Can opt out if he doesn't make #Opening Day roster.

    — Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) January 31, 2014

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Can opt out on Opening Day if he is not on the big league roster.

     

    Analysis

    A key piece of the Colorado Rockies bullpen from 2006-2010, Manny Corpas posted a 3.93 ERA in 280 games during that time while saving 34 games. Tommy John surgery cost him the 2011 season, though, and he signed with the Chicago Cubs in 2012.

    He had 5.01 ERA in 48 games during his lone season with the Cubs before rejoining the Rockies last season and improving slightly with a 4.54 ERA over 31 games. He's not the plus late-inning arm he was during his first go-around with the team, but he could still wind up landing a middle relief role in the team's bullpen this spring.

     

    Grade: B-

Kansas City Royals Re-Sign SP Bruce Chen

10 of 20

    SP Bruce Chen
    SP Bruce ChenJamie Squire/Getty Images

    Source: Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

    Source: #Royals re-sign Bruce Chen.

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 30, 2014

     

    Terms

    One-year, $3 million with a $5.5 million mutual option for 2015 that includes a $1.25 million buyout, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

     

    Analysis

    Once the ace of a poor Kansas City Royals staff, Bruce Chen was pushed to the bullpen last year. He wound up serving as a key swingman for the team, going 9-4 with a 3.27 ERA in 34 games (15 starts) while earning $4.5 million.

    Despite those numbers, the Royals got him to take a pay cut to come back this offseason, and he will again be counted on to bounce between the bullpen and rotation as needed. His fastball averaged a blazing 85.4 miles per hour last year, according to FanGraphs, but he gets by on plus control and a savvy veteran approach.

     

    Grade: A

Cincinnati Reds Sign IF Ramon Santiago

11 of 20

    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Report: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.

    #reds agree to deal with ramon santiago

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 29, 2014

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Deal will be worth $1.1 million if he makes the big league roster, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.

     

    Analysis

    The Detroit Tigers have not had the deepest of benches the past few seasons, but Ramon Santiago has seen a decent amount of playing time as the team's utility infielder, making at least 200 at-bats each of the past five seasons.

    He's hit just .247/.312/.334 over that span, including a .215/.290/.279 line the past two years, but he provides a plus glove capable of playing second base, shortstop and even some third base. He contributed six Defensive Runs Saved with a 6.6 UZR/150 last season, according to FanGraphs, and he has a real shot at winning a bench spot this spring.

     

    Grade: B+

Kansas City Royals Acquired RF Carlos Peguero from Seattle Mariners for Cash

12 of 20

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Report: Dick Kaegel of MLB.com.

    The Royals added outfield depth on Wednesday, acquiring Carlos Peguero from the Mariners. In exchange, the Mariners will receive a player to be named or cash.

     

    Terms

    The Royals sent cash to the Seattle Mariners to complete the deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports, so no other players were involved. Left-hander Everett Teaford was designated for assignment to free up a spot on the 40-man roster.

     

    Analysis

    Carlos Peguero has long been a prospect in the Seattle Mariners system, signing out of the Dominican Republic as a 19-year-old back in 2006. He has hit .274/.334/.504 with 137 home runs and 518 RBI in eight minor league seasons, but he has yet to experience any success at the big league level.

    In 205 total at-bats over the past three years, he's hit just .195/.242/.380 with nine home runs and 27 RBI. There was clearly no place for the 26-year-old in the Mariners' long-term plans, and the depth chart looks crowded for the Royals too. He'll be competing with Justin Maxwell, Jarrod Dyson, Melky Mesa and Gorkys Hernandez for the team's fourth outfielder spot.

     

    Grade: C

Seattle Mariners Sign SP Scott Baker

13 of 20

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

    Report: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

    Source: #Mariners agree to minor league deal with Scott Baker. Includes spring training invite.

    — Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) January 29, 2014

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Deal will be worth $1 million if he makes the big league roster, and he can earn up to $3.25 million more in incentives, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

     

    Analysis

    The Chicago Cubs signed Scott Baker to a one-year, $5.5 million deal last offseason in hopes that he could make an impact in the rotation by midseason after having Tommy John surgery on April 14 of 2012.

    He wound up staying on the DL until early September, though, making three starts and posting a 3.60 ERA in 15 innings of work. Prior to the injury, the right-hander was 55-37 with a 3.98 ERA from 2007-2011 while pitching for the Minnesota Twins. If he proves healthy, he could wind up being a huge steal for the Mariners.

     

    Grade: A

Minnesota Twins Sign RP Matt Guerrier

14 of 20

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Report: Steve Adams of MLBTradeRumors.

    The Twins announced that they've brought back another familiar face, signing right-hander Matt Guerrier to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Can opt out on June 1 if he is not on the big league roster, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

     

    Analysis

    After reuniting with Jason Bartlett and Jason Kubel earlier this offseason, the Minnesota Twins brought back another piece from their division-winning teams of the last decade when they signed reliever Matt Guerrier to a minor league deal.

    He led the league in appearances back-to-back seasons in 2008 and 2009 but has struggled the past two years after suffering through right elbow issues. He had a 4.80 ERA in 34 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season before being traded to the Chicago Cubs for Carlos Marmol; he pitched better there, with a 2.13 ERA in 15 games.

     

    Grade: C+

Los Angeles Angels Sign OF/DH Brennan Boesch

15 of 20

    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Report: Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

    #Angels have agreed to minor league deals with OF Brennan Boesch and 1B Carlos Pena.

    — Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) January 28, 2014

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Deal will be worth $800,000 if he makes the big league roster, according to Jeff Todd of MLBTradeRumors.

     

    Analysis

    After an impressive start to his career, in which he hit a combined .269/.330/.436 with 30 home runs and 121 RBI while averaging 446 at-bats per year, Brennan Boesch fell off significantly in 2012.

    He hit just .240/.286/.372 that year with 12 home runs and 54 RBI, and the Detroit Tigers non-tendered him the following offseason. The New York Yankees signed him last offseason, but he saw just 51 at-bats before being released in July. He's still only 28 years old, and the power potential is still there, but he'll have his work cut out from him to earn a roster spot this spring.

     

    Grade: C

Los Angeles Angels Sign 1B/DH Carlos Pena

16 of 20

    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Report: Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

    #Angels have agreed to minor league deals with OF Brennan Boesch and 1B Carlos Pena.

    — Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) January 28, 2014

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Deal will be worth $1 million if he makes the big league roster, according to Jeff Todd of MLBTradeRumors.

     

    Analysis

    Last offseason, the Houston Astros' biggest move was signing Carlos Pena to a one-year, $2.9 million to be their DH in what was their first season in the American League. He opened the season batting in the cleanup spot but hit just .209/.324/.350 with eight home runs and 25 RBI before being released on July 31.

    With Mark Trumbo traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Los Angeles Angels signed 41-year-old Raul Ibanez to replace him in the lineup. A big spring could not only win Pena a spot on the Angels' bench, but it could put him in a position to steal some at-bats at DH if Ibanez falters.

     

    Grade: A-

Cincinnati Reds Sign IF Chris Nelson

17 of 20

    Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

    Report: Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.

    The Reds have a Minor League deal with infielder Chris Nelson that comes with an invite to big league camp. The deal was agreed to on Sunday.

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Can opt out on March 28 if he is not on the big league roster, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

     

    Analysis

    Chris Nelson split last season between the Rockies, Yankees and Angels, hitting .227/.273/.327 with three home runs and 24 RBI over 211 at-bats while spending time at second and third base.

    He was impressive the previous season, though, as the Rockies' primary third baseman, hitting .301/.352/.458 with nine home runs and 53 RBI over 345 at-bats. The Reds have Brayan Pena, Skip Schumaker, Jack Hannahan and Chris Heisey locked into bench jobs, but one spot looks to be up for grabs. He'll compete with Ramon Santiago and Henry Rodriguez for that spot.

     

    Grade: B+

Cleveland Indians Sign IF Elliot Johnson

18 of 20

    Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    Report: Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.

    Indians have signed INF Elliot Johnson to a Minor League deal with spring invite.

    — Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) January 27, 2014

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training.

     

    Analysis

    Though Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera are locked into the starting middle infield spots for the Cleveland Indians, their bench may have some openings. Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn figure to be locked into two spots, but David Adams and David Cooper will likely have to earn their roster spots, despite signing major league deals.

    Elliot Johnson will be part of the mix for a bench job after signing a minor league deal. He is coming off of a strong finish to the 2013 season. He was acquired by the Atlanta Braves last August, and hit .261/.317 359 in 32 games down the stretch before earning the start at second base in all four of the team's NLDS games.

     

    Grade: B+

Colorado Rockies Sign IF Paul Janish

19 of 20

    Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

    Report: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.

    #rockies sign paul janish, slick fielding shortstop, to minor-league deal with invite to big-league camp

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 27, 2014

     

    Terms

    Minor league contract with an invite to spring training.

     

    Analysis

    Utility infielder Paul Janish has hit just .214/.284/.288 over his six-year big league career, but he is a terrific defensive shortstop. According to FanGraphs, he has been good for 23 Defensive Runs Saved in his career, with a 10.1 UZR/150.

    DJ LeMahieu and Josh Rutledge will compete for the Rockies' starting second base job this spring, and whoever loses out will join Charlie Culberson and Janish in the running for the team's utility infield job. Given the injury history of Troy Tulowitzki, having another shortstop with big league experience in the organization is a solid move.

     

    Grade: C

Milwaukee Brewers Sign SP Matt Garza

20 of 20

    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Report: Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.

    Hearing Garza's 4-yr deal with #Brewers guarantees $50mm, with $4mm more available in incentives and a vesting option for 5th year at $13mm

    — Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 26, 2014

     

    Terms

    Four-year, $50 million with a vesting $13 million option for 2018.

     

    Analysis

    With Masahiro Tanaka signed, the first chip on the free-agent starting pitching market fell, as Matt Garza agreed to a four-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. He'll join a rotation that already includes Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse, Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta.

    It had been a quiet offseason to that point for the Brewers, who had acquired reliever Will Smith from the Royals for outfielder Norichika Aoki and signed first basemen Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay to minor league deals, but done little else.

    The addition of Garza, along with a healthy season from Aramis Ramirez and the return of Ryan Braun, could put the Brewers in position to surprise in 2014. Their starting rotation posted a 4.20 ERA last season, putting them 21st in the MLB, and getting Garza for $12.5 million annually was a terrific bargain.

     

    Grade: A

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices